Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Still”?
It’s the oldest song on my upcoming debut LP Counterglow. I wrote it in 2013, the best and worst year of my life, during which I discovered both the power of romantic love and the shittiness of the panic attack – two excellent sources of songwriting fuel. Still came out of feeling the inevitability of anxiety, and of the repetitive, seemingly inescapable waltz with the Made-up Monster. It’s slightly ironic too, written from the perspective of a guy who thinks he’s the first ever human being to have a panic attack, the Neil Armstrong of stress. Ironic, but also honest; my generation knows that we’re fucked up. We’ve known for years. We face that fact one way or another pretty much every day, yet I think most of us feel isolated and misunderstood. I don’t think we’re very good at assessing our own feelings, much less each other’s, or at understanding how much we actually share.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
My first few anxiety attacks, and not understanding them. There’s a certain innocence and naiveté to the lyrics that I find is an interesting representation of how someone newly introduced to anxiety feels.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Not for Still, no. A live session came out last week, but there won’t be a music video for this one.
The single comes off your new album Counterglow – why taking so long on finishing writing this record?
It didn’t actually take long to write. It took a long time to produce and perfect and polish, but mostly it took a long time to release. I had no idea how to efficiently put it out. It took a long time to figure that out.
How much did time serve as an advantage for the record?
Some of the songs on it are quite old yet, years later, I still feel like they have something special about them. Time gives you perspective, which is a rare gift in creative realms. The fact that Still was written in 2013 and is now coming out six years later and I still feel good about it says a lot, I think.
Did you ever get worry that music and the lyrics might sound outdated?
Yes. On older songs, I definitely don’t feel as connected to the lyrics as on newer ones. There’s even one track that we ended up cutting because, lyrically, I really didn’t own it anymore. Musically I think it’s still very relevant.
What’s the story behind the title?
It took a long time to find a title. I was using a working title during production but in the end decided that it didn’t work, so I did what you do and got caught in a Wikipedia loop trying to find something that represented everything about the record in one word. Evidently, that’s impossible so I ended up going with a word that’s mostly a description of what I feel the album sounds like. Counterglow is an anglicisation of the german term “gegenschein” (“a patch of very faint nebulous light sometimes seen in the night sky opposite the position of the sun. It is thought to be the image of the sun reflected from gas and dust outside the atmosphere”). The record to me feels like a summer drive on a freeway at night, but still very glittery and sparkly, and I liked the word so that settled it.
How was the recording and writing process?
Ambitious and extensive. We actually recorded all the basic tracks very quickly: twelve songs’ worth of drums, bass and main guitars and keys over three days. That was an incredibly productive, inspired, happy weekend. We set up shop in this gigantic (and completely overkill) studio and embraced it. Then, I retreated to my apartment and overdubbed millions of tracks for about six months and we finished with the vocals. All I did was make music and play tennis with my cousin. I got hit with how draining the process had been upon completion, and my energy levels dropped drastically. I hadn’t realised how lonely I had gotten. I’ve been having intense social cravings ever since.
What aspect of love did you get to explore on this record?
Mainly romantic love. Anything from relationships nearing their end to relationships that haven’t even started yet, almost all through the lens of fear.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
My own life, mostly. My dreams, random thoughts and attempts to distill my own emotions. Yup, I’m self-centered.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes! We’re launching the record at Casa Del Popolo in Montreal on May 15th and then at Avant-Garde in Ottawa on the 30th and Café Maeltroøm Quebec city on June 1st. And then I should be playing in Montreal a bit this summer and hopefully by the fall we can get something together that’s a little more tangible.
What else is happening next in Reno McCarthy’s world?
I’d like to spend the rest of the year playing as many shows as I can to support Counterglow. After that, it’s on to the next one. I don’t want to spend this much time waiting for a record to come out ever again.